Conflict #14 – Power and Status

If you’ve watched “A Christmas Story”, the movie about Ralphie’s dream of owning a wondrous air rifle, remember the scene in which Ralphie beats up the bully, Farkas. Hold that thought for a minute.

Even solid relationships experience conflict. We are forced to respond; and our response will depend partly on how we see ourselves, compared to the other person/people in the conflict. One way we see ourselves is through the lens of power and status: one person is on top, the other is on the bottom. Based on how you see yourself, compared to others … how do you respond? Fight? Run away? Crack jokes? Negotiate?

Now, back to Ralphie and Farkas, the bully. Ralphie didn’t like conflict, and he was afraid of Farkas, because Farkas appeared stronger and liked hitting Ralphie. The thing is, Ralphie didn’t realize that bullies don’t like fighting; they like to dominate. There’s a big difference. Ralphie, all of a sudden, realized he had power, he fought back hard, and won.

Until we realize we have power, we can’t cope effectively with conflict. 
Fear controls us, and if that happens often enough, we might see ourselves as ‘losers’. We could strive to increase our power and status in order to ‘win’. That would be one approach. It might work in a way. And it would perpetuate the idea of conflict as a win-lose deal.

But wait a minute. Must we see conflict that way? Or could we aim for a win-win? How could that happen? The answer might lie in the way we think of conflict in general.

What if you could see conflict as a chance – in partnership with the other person – to create a solution, instead of a ‘top dog and bottom dog’ contest? If you believe you and the other person are equal in status, simply as human beings (not necessarily in your titles or pay grades), will that help you feel more confident about it?

Even if you can’t quite feel equal to the other person … could there be a way to work through conflict effectively?

There is such a way. I’ve been coaching conflict resolution since 2004. If you’d like to know more, call 219-309-3928 for a no-cost consultation. It would be an honor to be of service.

Thanks for reading!